Roughly half of Spirit Airlines flights were canceled on Thursday — and will be again on Friday for a fifth straight day — as the airline continues to cancel hundreds of flights throughout the week due to “operational challenges” and staffing issues that have thrown the budget airline out of sync.
The airline canceled 446 flights, or 56 percent of its flights on Thursday, according to FlightAware.
Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ted Christie said the cancelations come as the airline tries to reset itself after widespread “disruption,” he said in an interview with ABC News.
“When we reach this level of disruption, being able to recover does require a lot of resources, we’re not built to deal with this level of disruption and I think there’s some learning in there about how we might create variability in staffing so that we can deal with it,” he told ABC News.
“When we started canceling our crews got dislocated throughout the system. They were in the wrong places at the wrong time. And we needed to start to build that puzzle back together again. And unfortunately that takes our group a lot of time to do. So we started canceling deeper and deeper into the operation to give them that time,” Christie continued.
“The good news is that’s now finally starting to bear some fruit. We are starting to turn the tide here and get our operation moving again, there will still be cancellations over the next few days, but we can start to build back to the full operation, and then build from the takeaways that we get from this last week.”
Airlines have struggled to maintain staffing levels after COVID-19 decimated profits —even though airlines received federal funding contingent on them avoiding layoffs.
American Airlines appeared to be back on track after also struggling with staffing and other delay issues earlier this week, only canceling 1 percent of its flights on Thursday, according to FlightAware.